SDGs and Digital Realities

Recreating a school in a virtual world using the online game Minecraft? Let´s play!

Recreating a school in a virtual world using the online game Minecraft? Let’s play!

The SDGs will only be reached if the goals and their targets can be meaningfully brought to life in a school community and not only at the tables of policymakers. Yet how often are young people invited to act on the SDGs?

Accepting the challenge, this team sought to achieve sustainable development in a school in Bray, Co. Wicklow, Ireland, by recreating that school in a virtual world and redesigning it to align with the SDGs using the online game Minecraft. As a partnership project with secondary school Presentation College Bray and human rights charity 80:20 Educating and Acting for a Better World, the aim was to produce an open-world thinking platform to enable the whole school community to be involved in mapping environmental and social footprints with the potential of the SDGs.

Inverting the often top-down dissemination of education, the project began with this unique context and analyzed it using the goals; enabling participants to become active producers and engineers empowered with visualizing how these changes might look as a planning project led by young people. The challenge was on the languages. Textual language is often the typical vehicle for policy development. Visualization, however, can be empowering, lasting and bridges words with imagined realities. This initiative galvanized students to lead on visual design-based thinking linked to sustainable development, gradually involving 37 students (ages 13-17), 11 teachers and staff from 80:20.

The ‘sustainable school’ model was created by the community and for the community; each modification reflected one of the 169 targets and underpinned by the 5 P’s of the SDGs (people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership) in what kind of school they would like to see by 2030. Students drove new ideas in transforming the school into an SDG-friendly community and acted as spokespeople and champions of the visual design experiment, such as:

  1. field visits and peer-exchanges with other social justice student groups and peer-platforms such as the Let’s Talk project;
  2. presentations with national and SDG platforms, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Sustainability Research Coordination Group; Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland;
  3. used social media: 20,000 project video views, and findings published in a research portfolio.

The project’s next steps are 1) to use a sustainable development open-world design model to test priority action ideas to bring about changes in the wider school community and accelerate other schools in getting started with their important role in implementing the SDGs; and 2) to share ideas and methodologies with schools and SDG stakeholders locally, nationally and globally to empower all educational institutions to nurture whole-community involvement in sustainable planning and visualisation.

Who is behind this?

Clifton Rooney, Tony Daly, Shane McInerney and Stuart Hannon.

For more information:

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Together 2017: Collaboration, Innovation and the Sustainable Development Goals

Canada’s meeting point for crucial multi-sector conversations is on tour!

Canada’s meeting point for crucial multi-sector conversations is on tour!

Together 2017: Collaboration, Innovation and the Sustainable Development Goals was the first-ever multi-stakeholder symposium in Canada dedicated to the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. Together 2017 bridged the gap across sectors about the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the importance of collaboration and innovation in achieving the 2030 Agenda.

By convening representatives from across academia, civil society, national and subnational levels of government including federal, provincial, and municipal, Indigenous communities, the private sector and youth, Together 2017 set a foundation for how all stakeholders can work collectively to use the 2030 Agenda as a framework and common language, creating better organizations and communities in a better world. While conversations within sectors are taking place across the country about Agenda 2030, there exists a significant gap for convening multi-sector conversations.

Together 2017 fostered an environment which allowed diverse stakeholders to have open dialogue, learn, share and advance together. The Together 2017 Symposium provided an opportunity and platform for participants to showcase their work, celebrate accomplishments towards the SDGs, and identify where there is more work to be done.

Together 2017 speaker and participant Terry Sloan from the Southwest Native Cultures in Albuquerque, New Mexico expressed the impact of his participation at Together 2017 as being transformative. He had the opportunity to connect and share his wealth of knowledge with those in attendance particularly through his participation in the “Indigenous Perspectives on Achieving the SDGs” session. He encouraged using the Together 2017 “template” as a mechanism to foster the achievement of the UN SDGs and advancing Agenda 2030 both locally and globally.

Together 2018 will be taking place in Edmonton, Alberta in October 2018 with satellite conferences happening from coast to coast to coast across Canada. The Together movement has convened organizations to start a conversation that would not normally occur and will continue over the next 13 years. Conference organizers hope that Together will become a recurring symposium that travels across the country, broadening representation, charting progress, identifying next steps and keeping the discussion on the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs alive and current. ​Together 2018 will look at what has been accomplished and where more efforts are needed. It will examine Canada’s voluntary national review, encourage new leaders to join the movement, and identify innovative ways to tackle the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs.

Who is behind this?

Alberta Council for Global Cooperation

For more information:

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The Stockholm Act

A win-win-win-win program with many satakeholders (and no unintelligible jargon)

A win-win program with many stakeholders (and no unintelligible jargon)

One of the complicated challenges -as well as one of the strengths- of Agenda 2030 is the underlying goal to communicate the SDGs simultaneously. It demands a kind of whole earth approach without becoming lost in abstract detachment. The aim is to go deep as well as wide.

The team behind the Stockholm Act created a space that managed to navigate this somehow paradoxical aim. By bringing together the otherwise separated dimensions – politics, finance, culture and science – they forced the language out of a jargon that can easily be distancing. The seven day long festival included a widespread program such as philosophically contemplating “The Overview Effect” live on stage with the Swedish Space Program, Carl Folke (Stockholm Resilience Centre), Johanna Koljonen and the world famous jazz band, Fire! Orchestra.  Meantime, in another room, students from Fryshuset (16-20 years old) presented an assignment on how youth view the Agenda 2030.

The students coordinated with a startup, Inicio, the Royal Institute of Technology, the Swedish Energy Agency and Fortum Värme. Together they tried and also made a bicycle that could recharge smartphones used to upload photos on Snapchat/Instagram. Fortum Värme’s CEO also got a mentor from Fryshuset in digital transformation. A win-win coordinated event and a collaboration between different stakeholders that is still developing further.

Living in the postmodern paradigm, one of the dangers is social fragmentation, and the examples in current years across are abundant. Behind the initiative is the belief that in order to accelerate the transformation toward Agenda 2030 as much as possible, everyone should feel engaged and invited. A strategy was built to broaden the engagement for Agenda 2030 and to safeguard from creating a movement that a lot of people felt excluded from.

The team managed to create an inclusive platform open to all regardless of class, background, age, expertise or expression, gathering over 41 000 visitors. The plan for the future is to share the knowledge for the next Act (in Sweden or another place in the world) to help accelerate the movement to achieve the global goals.

Who is behind this?

The Stockholm Coordination Initiative

For more information:

REACT & Youth Skills and Innovation Initiative

Education in emergencies requires urgent fundraising and a powerful business coalition

Education in emergencies requires urgent fundraising and a powerful business coalition

The business community’s contributions to education have been small, short-term, and uncoordinated – and a fraction of the size of business contributions to other sectors like health and climate. With an estimated 75 million children having had their education disrupted and more than half of the world’s young people projected to be without the basic skills necessary for job by 2030, the team behind this initiative decided there was no time to waste.

The Global Business Coalition for Education (GBC-Education) brings together business alongside NGOs, UN Agencies and young people to solve the toughest challenges in education and drive forward progress on SDG 4. Two challenges the team has prioritized are education in emergencies and the youth skills gap. The small team has “hearts of activists and heads of strategists” and they have leveraged millions of dollars in public-private support to help young people have opportunity through education. The team established the REACT digital platform to efficiently and effectively record, match, and deploy corporate resources to the education needs in emergencies. By utilizing the digital platform’s immediacy and ease of access, the project has enabled a real-time matchmaking and streamlined delivery of contributions from more than 55 companies to the most urgent educational needs.

For instance, the team worked with HP on a Livelihoods Center in Istanbul to support Syrian refugees. Marisa – a Syrian refugee who left everything behind and had her university education stopped because of the conflict – admits this project has given her the opportunity to continue her studies and to have a routine and a place to go to everyday to gain skills for a job. To address the looming skills gap, the Youth Skills and Innovation Initiative convenes business leaders, youth organizations, international organizations and civil society to identify models for industry leaders bridge the skills gap by working directly with young people.

These unique partnerships across diverse stakeholders make it possible to deliver positive impact and transformative models of change. Just last month, the project brokered a $15 million pledged from the business community to deliver low-cost technology solutions for school systems in the poorest countries and expand access to learning opportunities for millions of children. The team aspires to be the go-to source for the business community in global education to lead the private sector in driving education investments across the globe, engaging in critical dialogue on key issues, facilitating multi-sector partnerships, and harnessing opportunities to bring dozens of companies and partnerships valued at hundreds of millions of dollars to deliver SDG4.

Who is behind this?

A team of five youth leaders from the Global Business Coalition for Education

For more information:

REACT & Youth skills and innovation 

1 Million Impact Campaign / OKYD Project

There is nothing like taking it really personal and proclaiming yourself an ambassador

Taking SDG ambassadors to local level in Benin

Communities and citizens (including youth) have little knowledge of the UN SDGs and contribute little to its implementation in Benin. This initiative mobilizes volunteers to act for the SDGs. It is part of a global campaign that aims to reach 1 million individuals around the world  in 5 months to inform them about the SDGs.   This approach is unique in Benin, as nobody else is doing it.

In Benin, 120 City Ambassadors from 52 towns, including 18 women were recruited and trained. All the 120 City ambassadors implement at least one activity/event. But because of the lack of commitment, engagement and financial resources, out of the 120 City Ambassadors, 35% (42 members) did not reach their main goals during the term.

The main success is that out of the 120 City Ambassadors 65% (78 members) were able to reach their main goal which consisted in organizing in-person seminars and events to promote the SDGs and impact at least 1,000 people during the term.

For example, Mrs. Daga Assiath worked hard and successfully on SDG 13 with others stakeholders as SDGs City Ambassador at Porto-Novo. By the end of November 2017 in Benin, around 115,000 persons in 52 cities were impacted.

This initiative is an innovative project but it has challenges to its implementation. Some country Ambassadors were not able to recruit the city Ambassadors and implement the project on volunteer basis because of lack of commitment, engagement and financial resources. It is such a challenge that the project will start giving an award to the Best City Ambassador with a certificate and prize at the end of the term selection process.

Through this project, citizens and communities know more about the SDGs because activities were implemented in local language and in a familiar environment, so they were free to ask any question to understand more about the SDGs. In the coming future, the project will keep growing in Benin in order to reach all the 77 cities and adding new activities and projects.

Who is behind this?

Agbadjagan Yacinthe Vidéou


Travelling through schools makes the SDGs classroom huge

Travelling through schools makes the SDGs classroom huge

GoalsOnWheels is truly unique. An intense effort carried out voluntarily by an individual to reach the most unreached with the SDGs. The project has reached 88 schools so far, impacting about 80,000 individuals. It is not just addressing the SDG awareness gap but also inspiring others to follow suit helping the cause to reach a larger audience and multiply the impact. The initiative paved the way for many localised solutions specific to the issue. It has drawn attention from global peers who are willing to replicate the initiative in their countries.

An inspiring story of this initiative is that when the project leader met a student, Rithwik, in the initial days of the campaign. The campaign gave him a stage to speak and only then they could know how intelligible that kid was. He has volunteered to lead SDG 13 within his school. Recently, the project leader has revisited them and was surprised to hear and see transformational change. Rithwik convinced not just his friends but the school management to reduce usage of polythene bags and the school has taken a resolution to make the premise a polythene free zone. He says now he wishes to become a global climate champion by saving his planet from climate deterioration.

This is all what the initiative aspires to do, apprise and inspire. The current ambitious target to reach hundred thousand students is only a initial phase of the global impact going to be created. In the next phase multiple campaigns will be launched across the world. Together with all the countries, large scale implementable solutions will be worked on. Furthermore, this entrepreneur is working with the local government to make their policies in line with the SDGs.

Who is behind this?

Akhilesh Reddy Singi Reddy

For more information:


SDGs Youth Training Canada

Youth is already organized, you just have to knock on their student groups’ doors

Youth is already organized, you just have to knock on their student groups’ doors

How can youth meaningfully participate in the movement toward a sustainable, prosperous and equitable Canada? How can Canadian civil society create space for youth, moving beyond just few youth representatives, to include diverse youth as active, fully engaged global citizens?

That is the problem the Foundation for Environmental Stewardship (FES) set out to tackle in 2016-2017, partnering with student-organizing groups across post-secondary institutions in Canada to bring the Sustainable Development Goals Advocacy and Local Implementation program across the country; from St. Johns, Newfoundland in the Maritimes, all the way to the west coast in Kamloops, British Columbia.

The first initiative of its type, the SDGs Youth Training Canada program is designed to engage and mobilize young people and build their capacities in sustainable problem solving, exercising this muscle to make it our generation’s core competency. Understanding the history, guiding principles and measurement of the SDGs is just the first step of the program, which is what students are introduced to at the training on their campus. The most important part of engagement with students is facilitating the design and implementation of an SDG Project in their local communities, catalyzing them to action.

Every campus SDGs Youth Training event hosted this year was entirely organized and driven by students, for students. Club organizers, student activists, elected departmental representatives and all other types of student leaders were the drivers of the SDGs Youth Training on their campus, and they are the leaders taking on the mantle of local implementation.

It is FES’ firm conviction that youth serving work must center the value, capacities and goals of youth themselves. Through the cross-country tour, Canadian students have demonstrated irrevocably that youth are willing and able to be the champions of the SDGs.

Nearly 6000 Canadian students came out from coast to coast to 32 trainings, representing 77 post-secondary institutions across the country. When asked if the training increased their understanding of the Sustainable Development Goals , 96% of the 400+ respondents asserted that it did and, perhaps most humbling for us is that when asked how much more likely they are to take action (e.g. advocacy and local implementation) on the SDGs after this training, 81% of respondents said they were likely to do so.

With the energy the program has generated at the grassroots, and guidance from FES SDGs Program Staff, students are collectively organizing the first ever Canadian Student Network for the Sustainable Development Goals, a national level youth body that will represent student voices in policy advocacy!

AIESEC: Youth 4 Global Goals

If you watch these inspiring episodes of volunteering experiences, you will want to volunteer too

If you watch these inspiring episodes of volunteering experiences, you will want to volunteer too

Youth 4 Global Goals is an AIESEC Initiative through which the team aims to mobilize youth towards the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. Their initiative aims to educate youth about the SDGs and provide practical volunteering opportunities to unleash their potential while being an active world citizen. They believe that young people need to be strong partners in the achievement of the SDGs.

The project focus on developing their leadership skills and providing a platform to act towards issues they are passionate about. AIESEC has built a strong network of young people passionate about the positive change and has mobilized 74,000 international volunteers to work in development projects for 6-8 weeks. Since the creation of the initiative in 2015, it reached over 6 million young people to educate them about the SDGs and engaged 90,000 young leaders in YouthSpeak Forums to discuss some of the most pressing issues in the local reality.

Youth 4 Global Goals is aiming to become to an umbrella for all the youth action towards the SDGs. Their ambition is to be able to engage as many young people in this movement as possible. AIESEC is actively working with various partners to increase our reach. For 2018, the team plans to reach 10 million young people through their digital campaigns, 100,000 people through YouthSpeak Forums and World’s Largest Lesson activations. Most importantly, they are keeping their focus on making sure youth will take action to impact the SDGs by facilitating 50,000 volunteer experiences this year.

AIESEC has aligned its programs with the SDGs in 2015. In 2018, the aim is to run Flagship programs focused on Good Health and Well-Being, Quality Education, Gender Equality, Decent Work and Economic Growth and Responsible Consumption.

Who is behind this?

Tetiana Landysheva / AISEC

For more information:


My World. Challenges for a better world

One of the big boys (indeed, a bank) raising awareness through its huge platforms

One of the big boys (indeed, a bank) raising awareness through its huge platforms

“La Caixa” Banking Foundation launched the travelling exhibition “My World. Challenges for a better world”, which has been on display at the foundation’s cultural centers in several Spanish cities since 2015.

At the time, it was the first exhibition devoted entirely to the SDGs in Spain, placed in exhibition centers that reach thousands of people. When thinking about what kind of exhibition the foundation envisioned, the challenge was to take a step forward regarding the dissemination of the SDGs, and for this reason the exhibition was designed in a very participative way rather than a purely informative one.

The aim of this exhibition is to be inclusive, innovative and interactive. It uses new innovative tools, like holographic audiovisuals and virtual reality glasses. The target audience is very wide: general public, individuals, families, schools, etc. So far, the total number of visitors is over 75,000 and about 8,000 school children have also taken part in the educational workshops. The educational component of the exhibition is a particular strength and it responds to a demand from the teachers who want to explain the SDGs to their students and do not have the resources to do it in a successful and fun way.

The next step of the project is the total integration of the SDGs in the main  “la Caixa” Banking Foundation new strategic plan.

Taking into account that this organization has an annual budget of 520 million euros, its projects reach about 11 million people every year, the potential dissemination, SDGs awareness, and real impact can be remarkable.

Who is behind this?

La Caixa Foundation

For more information:

MY WORLD – La Caixa Forum 

Global goals for local impact

Make it household data, make a real implementation

Capturing local household data for impactful SDG implementation

The changemakers behind this project took the position that the sustainable development goals are best achieved by citizens at subnational level, based on their experience. They therefore set out to demonstrate that this is actually possible and that citizens, when properly organized, can achieve these goals using every household’s data.

They worked with the community leaders to understand the value of data in identifying the
development gaps and the needs that they must address in order to achieve the goals in
their area. Thanks to the support of the community they were able to collect Citizen Generated Data from every household in Lanet Umoja (12,500) on all aspects relating to the SDGs, including security, food, agriculture, livelihoods, education, health, energy, water and sanitation.

This is a fairly new concept globally and certainly in Africa. They are now moving their initiative to work with 12 locations (approx, 200,000 households) to replicate the work they are doing there. But they are also working with the government to mainstream our model nationally. The Open Institute works with governments, civil society, private sector companies, media organisations and others to realize citizen-driven open societies in Africa, managed by informed, fact-driven citizens.

The collected data was visualized on a portal which can be viewed at to enable the entire community to access it and analyze what it
meant to them. The community was able to identify a number of key needs in the location –
there was no health centre in the whole location, households that were led by women were
affected by insecurity and that while there was water in the location and there was a high
prevalence of waterborne diseases.

Their aim is to do this through various community-level initiatives and forging partnerships with other organizations in this space. Through their work, the people behind this initiative aim to achieve two main changes in our societies: they want to see governments that proactively open everything that is relevant to development into the public light and to give value to citizen voices.

Who is behind this?

Al Kags

For more information: